Republicans Attack VP Harris Over Reply to Claims That Israel Is Commiting 'Ethnic Genocide'

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Students applaud as U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris enters the room during a visit to George Mason University, today.
Students applaud as U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris enters the room during a visit to George Mason University, today.Credit: REUTERS/Leah Millis

Republican politicians in the U.S. attacked on Wednesday Vice President Kamala Harris over her response to comments made against Israel by a student at George Mason University. While visiting GMU’s campus in Virginia, Harris was told by a student that Israel was committing "ethnic genocide" as part of a broader complaint by the student about U.S. foreign and domestic policies.

Harris replied by saying "this is about the fact that your voice, your perspective, your experience, your truth cannot be suppressed."

A minute-long video of the interaction, which seemed like it was cut in the middle of Harris’ reply, was shared on social media by the Republican National Committee. GOP Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri wrote: "Kamala Harris doesn’t have time to go to the border, but she apparently has plenty of time to encourage anti-Israel, anti-Semitic falsehoods."

David Friedman, who was former President Donald Trump’s ambassador to Israel, called Harris’ reply "shameful" and said that she should have "called out" the student for her attack on Israel. 

Republican Congressman Dan Meuser of Pennsylvania wrote in reply: "Kamala Harris owes all who support Israel an apology and explanation. Her foolish woke view is wrong, per usual. Go to Israel and learn something, Madame VP."

“Throughout her career, the Vice President has been unwavering in her commitment to Israel and to Israel’s security,” Harris’s chief spokesperson Symone Sanders said in a statement.  “While visiting George Mason University to discuss voting rights, a student voiced a personal opinion during a political science class. The Vice President strongly disagrees with the student’s characterization of Israel.”

Harris visited Israel as a Senator in November 2017 and met with the country’s leaders at the time, including former Prime Minister Netanyahu and former President Reuven Rivlin. She also voted in her years as a Senator in favor of military aid to Israel and against the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement which aims to put financial pressure on Israel.

Guy Ziv, an associate professor at American University who writes on Israeli history, posted in reply to the incident: "While it's understandable that Israelis would bristle at claims of 'ethnic genocide,' there's nothing in the VP's record to suggest that she agreed with anything this student said. Nodding and listening to a student's perspective doesn't mean embracing it."

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